Welcome to Memory Keepers

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The Memory Keepers Medical Discovery Team is focused on understanding the dynamics of diabetes and dementia as interacting conditions among people living in tribal and rural communities. Led by Dr. Neil Henderson (Oklahoma Choctaw), the team will work to preserve brain health by collaborative, community-based research. The origin of the name,” Memory Keepers” Medical Discovery Team is significant. In many American Indian cultures, respected adults and elders of the tribe are responsible for preserving sacred medicine bundles, songs, and stories. By prevention and aggressive management of diabetes, the risk of vascular, Alzheimer’s, and other dementias can be reduced. In this spirit, the research to preserve brain health will enable American Indian communities to continue to benefit from the wisdom of their adults and elders far into the future.


Advancing the boundaries of health equity research to create innovative interventions to support healthy aging in American Indian and Rural populations.


The mission of the Memory Keepers Medical Discovery Team is to support an environment of Team Science to conduct community-based participatory action research on diabetes and dementia in American Indian and rural communities with the aim of achieving health equity.

Core Values:

We see health and illness as holistic encompassing mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being.

We aim to better understand the dynamics of the syndemic of diabetes and dementia so that interventions can be designed, implemented, and evaluated to improve cognitive and metabolic health so that community members can age well, and live healthier lives.

Our research strives to understand the biological, social, and cultural construction of disease, illness, and health in order to improve diagnoses, develop community health interventions and improve education for diabetes and dementia within the context of geographic and cultural diversity.

We assume a strengths-based approach that values western, local, and Indigenous knowledge and seeks to synthesize these different ways of understanding into innovative forms of scientific explanation and knowledge translation.